He speculates that since bedding from stranger mice produces the effect, what causes the stress is the thought of imminent territorial aggression from males in general, rather than the threat of predation from human males specifically. “What they’re afraid of is strange male mice,” he explains. “It’s just that other male mammals, including us, smell like male mice.”
Mogil’s theory might also explain why the presence of female researchers and olfactory stimuli defuse the effect of stress-induced analgesia: If the mice smell a mixed-sexed group, the “strange” male mouse is likely to be within a group or with its family, and much less likely to be aggressive or defending territory. The scientist has received a grant to observe whether the same effect is true for people. He believes that it will be, however, since the stress disappears once the animal convinces itself there’s no actual danger, “humans would be able to do that fairly quickly"—and any observable stress response would likely be much smaller and shorter-lived.
Are male scientists screwing up research because of their gender?
In related news, male everything-elses may also be screwing things up because of their gender, but not because of their scent.